We stayed at Angmo Guest House at Anmu, where we were not only greeted well, but welcomed with a delicious cup of tea as well. A short conversation with the BRO engineer from Maharashtra was followed by a sumptuous dinner and a sound sleep.
We left Anmu at around 8:30 AM the following morning. A lot of blogs and people on internet claimed that Phuktal is a long walk and should ideally be completed in 2 days, but our host told us it’s just a 3-hour walk for the locals, and I assumed it to be 5-6 hours for our group that included non-trekkers, and people are not used to such heights.
Though we thought of going to Phuktal via Purne Village but our host suggested us to take the Cha Village route as it is shorter and saves around 2 hours of time. We drove for around 2 kilometers, till the last point of the motorable road, beyond which the BRO was working on road construction, which they plan to complete till Cha Village shortly.
By 9:10 AM we started our walk towards Phuktal Monastery. The road was dusty because of the ongoing construction. We saw a Nunnery a little ahead and exchanged greetings with a nun. A good start to the trek perhaps. After taking a few breaks for resting and photography enroute, we reached Cha Village by 10:15 AM. Cha Village is the mid-point to Phuktal and we made it there in good time.
We went to a local’s home and requested for tea. People open-heartedly welcome visitors in this part of the world, and the lady of the house not only served us tea but biscuits as well. After a longish 50-minute break we started our walk towards Phuktal again.
After Cha Village, the trek gets a little steep which made a couple of people in the group tired, but we kept marching ahead at a steady pace. We saw Purne Village on the other side of the river, and it looked beautiful enough to lure us to come back via that way. The entire stretch is raw in nature and encapsulates the true beauty of nature, untouched by the regular touristy crowd. The Tsarap river flows like a snake between the valley and the makes your walk as beautiful as it is exciting.
The route becomes a little narrow enroute and there were several rough and slippery patches that needed a lot of caution as one careless step can take one to the river flowing a few hundred feet below.
After over an hour’s walk from Cha Village, one can see some greenery in the form of green trees ahead, barely visible through the mountains. That’s where one has to reach to reach Phuktal Gompa. We kept on eyeing that little green patch, hoping for it to arrive soon. But it wasn’t as close as it appeared to be. We walked through one curve after the other, climbed and walked down the mountain several times before reaching the Phuktal Bridge that one needs to cross while coming from Purne Village. Everyone seemed tired at this point, and rested before walking the last 1 kilometer till Phuktal.
A few monks and a lot of construction workers greeted us enroute. The last kilometer got a little tiring, but huffing and puffing, we took the last curve and as if miraculously Phuktal Gompa appeared in front of us. I had a look at the watch and it was just 1:40 PM. Completed the walk in 4:30 hours with a longish break at Cha Village. Someone in the group also suggested walking back the same day, but that was never an option, we were yet to soak in the beauty that Phuktal has to offer. So, we decided to stay at the Monastery Guest House, which is some 400 meters before the monastery.